It’s not news that Joe Gallipeau is running again. He’s running for the same reason he ran four years ago for councillor — to stand up for the taxpayer. This time, though, his goal is to become mayor.
He has some ideas he wants to realize, and they all have to do with being more efficient with taxpayers’ money.
“The town needs more direction; it needs a mayor and council to stand up for people and be a little more cautious in how [it] gives money away. It needs a mayor to make decisions.” In his opinion, Gallipeau adds, there have been “a lot of things” that needed decisions, but he wouldn’t comment further.
“I’m not throwing mud,” Gallipeau adds quickly, thinking about his answer. “People know who I am, what I stand for. The biggest reason is because I don’t think previous councils have actually stood up as well as I can for taxpayers.
“Money needs to be spent in a budgeted way. Some of our ‘giveaways’ we need to look at.” For instance, he describes the Station Theatre as paying the Town $10,000 each year, when, in fact, the “cost to the Town is $40,000 to $60,000 to keep it open.” And he further questions how much “do we keep putting into the Railway Museum?
“All these things we need to take a strong look at. We probably need them (Theatre and Museum), they’re all great for the Town, but at what cost?
“We need to be more efficient.”
That efficiency includes town staff, in Gallipeau’s opinion. “Staff has a role. It’s to run the town and run it efficiently.” He wonders if staff sometimes makes decisions that should ultimately be decided by council. He gives, as an example, the staff decision to place the LAV III being brought to Smiths Falls by the Legion in Alexander Park on Condie Street; council unanimously said ‘no’ to that location. It would go where the Legion wanted it — between the WW II memorial and the Gerry Lowe outdoor rink. “In my mind it should be council that makes some of these decisions. It’s our responsibility.”
And Gallipeau has other ideas for the town. Smiths Falls needs a rail system similar to the light rail going into Ottawa, or Toronto’s Go-Train. Two or three times a day the train would run between the Town and Ottawa —“boom, boom, boom,” he says. There are people in Ottawa who can’t afford to live in the city, “they want to be in a small town,” with all the amenities like “the Rideau, our new arena, we have ball parks and lots of other parks.” His opinion is the “Town hasn’t pushed its assets as well as it should have.”
He also wants to put time and effort into making the downtown “vibrant. We need to have commercial businesses to attract people here, like a clothing store for men, novelty shops similar to Perth and Merrickville. We need to have a niche that Walmart doesn’t have. To get people downtown, we need specialty shops.”
Thinking along the Field of Dreams line — build it and they will come —
Gallipeau’s thinking is clientele will follow if attractive shops are there. “Downtown has to specialize in something big stores don’t have in order to attract people,” and he adds the Town needs both the stores and the people for the vision to work.
One of Gallipeau’s accomplishments over the last four years has been to keep the water bill from skyrocketing to 7-8 percent. “I’ve kept it down to 2 and 3 percent. I had to do a lot of persuasion. The mayor and other councillors said it should be up at the 7-8 percent mark but no water plant that I’m aware of is self-sustaining.”
Gallipeau has also been insistent and vocal about Smiths Falls’ unique RV Park. The Chamber of Commerce looks after the park and rents campsites but their lease is up at the end of the year. The Chamber has asked several times for a longer lease and Gallipeau was front and centre offering to sit on a committee to negotiate this with the town. He says, with some tartness, that in the end he didn’t sit on the committee and is still waiting to see the lease that’s been negotiated. “It should be back at council shortly.”
He adds that the Town is quite open about wanting to promote tourism and so far “the Town has spent $500,000 on docks for Le Boat. “I question that tourism should just as easily be for an RV as for Le Boat; the Town should support the Park as well.”
And, of course, the big question for would-be voters is what’s happening with his lawsuit against the Town for allegedly overcharging his company water and sewer fees. It has not yet “been resolved but will be very shortly,” Gallipeau says.
Gallipeau is a fourth generation Smiths Falls-ite — great-grandfather, grandfather, father and him. He says he has more time now to put into the mayor’s race as both his son and daughter work for him freeing up time.
He’ll be kicking off his campaign Wednesday, August 22 at the Legion on Main Street from 4 to 7 p.m. He invites those interested and wanting to show support to please come out. The election is October 22.